Reconnecting Children and Parents Through Telemedicine

Prof Mitch Li

Thanks to the advances in transportation, it is very common to see people moving from city to city to pursue better things, sometimes even thousands of kilometres away from their hometown. As more people in China opt to relocate, it also means there are more and more empty nesters which is why Dr Mitch Li believes his latest work could come in handy to many people.

Many countries in the world are facing policy challenges of aging population, China whose latest Three-child Policy which sparked wide-ranging discussion is no doubt among one of them. With it’s One Child Policy in place for decades, many single child now have to support two parents. And as they move to different regions, another problem arise as they struggle to care for their parents. But with the smart band device Dr Mitch Li and his team are currently working on, your parents health conditions are just one click away.

Dr Mitch Li is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Integrative Systems with a focus on developing advanced manufacturing technologies. Currently, his smart band design can monitor how many steps the user takes, as well as the heart rate and blood pressure. To make it a telemedicine solution, it must do more. Dr Li and his team are trying to develop wearable electronic devices targeting diseases such as diabetes. However, health management is more than just the physical health, the mental aspect is often overlooked. When parents are getting older and their children live far away, they are more prone to develop emotional issues. Especially in Asia whereas the culture is more reserved, even between parents and children. Dr Li believes with the new smart band device, the data recorded could be a new mean of communication between parents and children in China.

Dr Li and his team hope to promote healthy and happy aging; secondly, connect the children with the elderly through telemedicine method; last but not least, try to overcome the three main killers, heart disease, brain disease and cancer. With a solid data base on using blood and cortisol level to determine one’s depression level, especially for the elderly, they have designed a smart band with a cortisol sensor that could detect the depression level of the user. Under normal circumstances, it is costly to monitor one’s cortisol level on a regular because you have to take a blood test to get the results. For their design, a smart band will apply a very small voltage to stimulate sweat, then a sensor will detect the level of cortisol using the enzyme, making it a more affordable and safer way to monitor one’s cortisol level. Ideally, if the elderly wears it for a year, it shall cost less than $1 per day. And through these data, the children could stay updated with the health conditions of their parents.